Turkish Airlines Euro-League Basketball’s Top-16 Round-9 games were played over three days on March 2, 3 & 4, 2016. The matches brought joy for visiting teams as 4 games were won on road. After tasting their first Top-16 defeat in Round-8, Fenerbahce Istanbul came back to the winning ways and they could be the first team next week to earn their place in play-off. In two other individual Round-9 highlights, Zalgiris Kaunas’ captain Paulius Jankunas scored his 2000th point and rose to third place in career rebounding charts, while in the same match, Brose Baskets Bamberg’s Nikos Zisis produced a personal best score of 25 points in his 248th career game. A brief run-down on Round-9 games follows.
In the only Top-16 game played on March 2, Fenerbahce Istanbul defeated Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade 72-65. Fenerbahce were helped by a scintillating second-half show by Luigi Datome, who scored a career-high 27 points, of which 22 came in third and fourth quarters. With an 8-1 top-place standing, Fenerbahce could qualify for play-offs if they win again next week. Though Zvezda led 25-34 at halftime, Datome and Bogdan Bogdanovic reversed the trend in second half. Bogdanovic scored 16 points with 7 rebounds.
On March 3, Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar scored an impressive 76-61 road win over Anadolu Efes Istanbul. The 7-2 standing for Lokomotiv at this stage, could send them into play-offs but they may need to wait awhile. Anthony Randolph was brilliant again with 10 first-quarter points while Malcolm Delaney’s second-quarter effort gave Lokomotiv a 38-28 halftime lead. Lokomotiv tightened their defense in second half and eased to victory in the end. Delaney finished with 19 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds, while Randolph had 17 with 6 rebounds.
Panathinaikos Athens recorded their fifth successive victory in beating Unicaja Malaga 76-58. Panathinaikos jumped to a 20-4 lead but Unicaja’s Mindaugas Kuzminskas made brave efforts to take Unicaja to within 11 points. That was the closest Unicaja could get. Panathinaikos’ Elliot Williams and Nick Calathes ensured a resounding victory for their team. Williams scored 16 points while Calathes added 10 with 10 assists.
Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul scored their first-ever road win in Top16, when they defeated Cedevita Zagreb 83-77. It was a close encounter, where both teams fought hard and traded lead 5 times in fourth quarter, before Darussafaka’s Scottie Wilbekin and Marcus Slaughter came up with crunch points with 60 seconds left. Slaughter netted 17 points; Manuchar Markoishvili added 16 and Wilbekin finished with 8 points and 6 assists.
Wednesday saw a titanic clash between Group F’s top-scoring teams, in which CSKA Moscow scored a 96-87 road win against Real Madrid. It was CSKA’s fifth consecutive Top16 victory and they occupy the top spot now. For CSKA, Kyle Hines scored 16 points, Milos Teodosic added 15 and Nando De Colo another 12. Madrid’s Gustavo Ayon scored 20 points, 12 rebounds and 3 steals but CSKA still managed a 2-point lead going into the fourth quarter. After Madrid came to within 5 point of CSKA in the final minute, CSKA hung on to finish the winners.
On Thursday, Khimki Moscow Region defeated FC Barcelona Lassa 75-61 and joined Real Madrid at the third place in standings. For Khimki, Alexey Shved scored 16 points and Tyler Honeycutt added 11 with 10 rebounds. For Barcelona, Justin Doellman scored 14 but that couldn’t prevent Khimki from winning.
The close match between Zalgiris Kaunas and Brose Baskets Bamberg at Zalgirio became more important for personal achievements. Zalgiris edged out Bamberg 75-73 on a historic night, when team captain Paulius Jankunas scored his 2000th career point and overtook Mirsad Turkcan for third place on rebounds in Euro-league history. Jankunas’ career tally now has 2007 points and 1289 rebounds. Jankunas led Zalgiris for a 13-2 first-quarter run before Bamberg veteran Nikos Zisis put his own stamp of authority in the match. The game went to the wire and was decided in the last 60 seconds. In the end, Ian Vougioukas free throws put Zalgiris ahead. After that, Bamberg missed twice and failed to level the score. Jankunas finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Vougioukas added 13 with 9 rebounds. In his 248th career game, Zisis came up with his personal best of 25 points.
In the Group’s last Round-9 game, Olympiacos Piraeus defeated Laboral Kutxa Vitoria 82-68 at Athens. The victory took Olympiacos victory to the joint fifth place with FC Barcelona. Laboral had won their last 5 games but despite the loss, they are still on second place. Helped by the brilliant Georgios Printezis, Olympiacos began with a 11-0 first-quarter run and again 16-0 in the second, when Daniel Hackett led the charge. Olympiacos’ margin widened to 20 points late in third quarter and although Laboral came to within 8 points at one stage in fourth quarter, they had to concede defeat. Printezis scored 17 points and Vassilis Spanoulis added 14 with 8 assists. Laboral’s Ioannis Bourousis scored 19 points with 7 rebounds but that proved to be a wasted effort in the end.